Consumer Support Outcome

Following on from our communication about the Consumer Understanding outcome, below we look at the Consumer Support outcome and what it means to AXA, our customers, and brokers.

Who is affected?

The Consumer Support outcome applies to firms which interact with customers and those which can have an impact on customer experience. For firms which outsource customer support activity, such as claims and complaints handling, it remains the regulatory responsibility of the outsourcing firm to ensure the outcome is achieved.

As with Principle 12 and the cross-cutting rules, this Consumer Duty outcome covers consumers, individuals acting in a business capacity and SME customers and potential customers. It doesn’t apply to reinsurance, contracts of large risk sold to commercial customers or other contracts of large risk where the risk is located outside the UK.

What is it?

Customers can only pursue their financial objectives where firms support them and enable them to use the product or service they have purchased in a way that reasonably meets customer expectations and needs. A product or service that a customer cannot use fully is unlikely to provide fair value. This outcome is closely linked to the Consumer Understanding outcome, which requires firms to help equip customers to make informed and timely decisions. Good customer support enables customers to easily use products or services.

The outcome expects firms to:

  • Design processes to meet the support needs of customers, including those with characteristics of vulnerability;
  • Ensure customers can easily use their products and services as reasonably expected;
  • Ensure there is appropriate messaging in journeys to enable customers to assess risks in an informed way, for example, explaining the consequences of cancellation while avoiding making the cancellation excessively complicated;
  • Ensure customers do not face unreasonable barriers, including additional costs, over the lifetime of a product;
  • Monitor support they are offering, and if any gaps or shortfalls are identified, act promptly to address these;
  • Offer support to our customers, including vulnerable customers, through a variety of channels.

Crucially, what firms should be asking themselves is whether they are applying the same standards to delivering good support across the lifetime of their products and not just at point of sale. Equal focus across sales and service is required as part of this outcome. The impact of the current cost-of-living crisis on customers is relevant to this outcome, with firms expected to offer support to customers who may be experiencing financial difficulty.

This outcome should be read in conjunction with existing FCA rules, for example, those for complaint handling.

What does this mean?

Below, we outline what this outcome means for AXA and the impact for customers and our broker partners.  

Key elements of this outcome AXA's role* Customer Impact* Broker Impact*
Provision of consistent support across the product lifetime
  • We provide customer support across sales and service, claims and complaints
  • The support we offer is online and offline, with guidance and information readily available 
  • Customers can be confident that we are here to support them 
  • You can be confident that we are customer focused with the support we offer
  • You may need to consider how you support customers

No post-sales barriers to cancelling a policy, making a change, claim or complaint 
  • We  do not make it difficult for customers to make mid-term changes or to cancel a policy
  • We do not charge unreasonable admin or cancellation fees 
  • We have reviewed our customer journeys to help avoid causing foreseeable harm
  • Customers do not encounter difficulties when making a claim or complaint
  • Customers can easily cancel, make changes, claim, or complain without experiencing unreasonable barriers
  • We provide supporting information and do not seek to frustrate customers through complicated processes

  • You may need to review your own processes to ensure that customers do not face unreasonable barriers  
Consistency and quality of support
  • Our customer-facing staff, both sales and post-sales, receive training to ensure they can provide support that meets customer needs
  • We have quality standards across online and offline to ensure, regardless of communication channel, customers receive quality support when and how they need it 
  • Customers can be confident that we are here to support them through appropriate channels 
  • You may need to review your own processes to ensure that customers receive quality support
Helpful and understandable service
  • We have benchmarks across the business to monitor customer support provision and will act if we identify issues
  • Customer support information, such as IVR messages, web chat and online content is clear and helpful
  • Clear information supports customers along their journeys with us

  • Similarly, you may need to gain comfort about when and how you provide support to customers
  • Dependent on your role and authority, there may be instances where you need to refer customers to AXA for support, such as to make a claim or a complaint 
Monitoring customer support
  • We use key risk indicators, controls, customer outcome testing and assurance activity to ensure our customer support offers good customer outcomes
  • Customers can be confident that they are at the heart of what we do
  • You may already be monitoring the customer support you offer

*Examples are illustrative and not exhaustive

Working closely together and sharing information will help us to collectively support our customers. If you have any questions, please get in touch.